Clark County has a new player in the game of economic development: a sports commission that will give advice on how to attract sports events and tournaments to the area, and how to promote such activities.
It’s the brainchild of the nonprofit Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office, which announced Tuesday that its board of directors had approved the creation of a 20- to 30-member sports group.
The Vancouver USA Regional Sports Commission will serve as a special advisory committee to the nonprofit’s board.
In email to The Columbian, Jill Daniel, marketing and communications manager for the tourism office, said the nonprofit will continue to use its operating budget — funded through a public lodging tax — “to grow this market,” including attending trade shows, “advertising in sports publications, memberships in sports organizations, etc. to bring more business into Clark County. “Additionally, we will leverage some private sponsorship dollars to augment those efforts.”
In the news release, Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart said the county “can build on the successes of marathons, regional youth tournaments, and equestrian events to make sports a major force in economic development and revitalization for the county.”
Stuart was a proponent of a 5 percent admissions tax to help bring professional baseball to Vancouver. The proposal died in November when neither Commissioner Marc Boldt nor Commissioner Tom Mielke would second Stuart’s motion to approve the proposal.
Stuart could not be reached Tuesday for an interview.
As to the reason for launching the sports commission, Daniel, in her email, said: “In our work with sports planners and tournament directors, it has become clear that an expanded local network of sports related industry professionals can help us grow this market.”
The commission already has six members, according to the Tourism Office: Kim Bennett, president and CEO of the Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office; Brian McClary of Heathman Lodge; Charles Guthrie of Clark College; Peter Mayer of Vancouver-Clark County Parks and Recreation; Alison Hite of SpringHill Suites by Marriott; and Dave Sobolik of Fit Right Northwest.
Ultimately, the sports group will comprise 20 to 30 people from across Clark County, representing such interests as college, university and high school athletic programs; private and public sports venues and facilities; athletic suppliers and vendors; sports medicine organizations; and private businesses and retailers.
The commission is expected to meet first in February. People interested in serving on the panel are invited to contact the Vancouver USA Regional Sports Commission at email@example.com.
According to the Tourism Office, the objectives of the new sports commission include:
• Providing and coordinating resources in the community that will boost the success of sports events and tournaments;
• Looking for sports events, tournaments and bid opportunities that fit the resources available in Clark County;
• Informing the public about the benefits of investing in sports competitions and venues;
• Providing a forum for the continued recognition of sports in improving the quality of life in Clark County.
Clark County is home to “a growing number of major national and regional sports events that attract thousands of visitors to the region every year,” according to the Tourism Office’s news release. Those include the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Cross Country National Championships, which have been held in Vancouver since 2009 and return this year.
Vancouver also has welcomed everything from the Little League Girls Softball Western Region Tournament and the Washington State Horse Expo to the Adidas Clash at the Border soccer tournament and the U.S. Rowing Northwest Junior District Championships.
“Our numerous sports facilities, parks and natural venues are becoming well-known among event organizers throughout the Northwest as well as the entire U.S.,” said Bennett, CEO of the Tourism Office.